Indiana's frantic comeback win over Michigan yesterday was important because it gave the program its first outright Big Ten title in two decades. But, it was even more important in perhaps locking up the Midwest's coveted #1 seed. That spot would put the Hoosiers in line to potentially play virtual home games at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Regionals semifinals and final.
While there has been a lot of nail-biting over IU's seed status, it's hard to imagine them falling off the #1 seed line now. Here is how they stack up against the competition for the #1s:
RECORD VS. RPI Top 50 (VS. RPI Top 100)
Indiana: 8-5 (11-5)
Kansas 11-3 (13-4)
Duke: 10-2 (14-4)
Gonzaga: 5-2 (9-2)
Louisville: 9-4 (12-5)
Georgetown: 8-3 (12-4)
Michigan: 8-5 (10-5)
Michigan State: 8-7 (9-7)
Miami: 6-2 (14-4)
RPI/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Michigan State: 8/4
BAD LOSSES (teams outside the RPI Top 50)
Kansas: at TCU (228)
Duke: at Maryland (79), at Virginia (72)
Louisville: at Villanova (52)
Georgetown: at South Florida (136)
Michigan: at Penn State (181)
Michigan State: at Iowa (71)
Miami: at Wake Forest (167), Georgia Tech (130), at Florida Gulf Coast (91)
Another aspect of IU's resume that stands out is their success on the road. They're 7-2 on true road courts, and have four wins against RPI Top 25 teams (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Georgetown-N) away from Bloomington. That mark is especially impressive when you take into account that Duke, the potential #1 overall seed, is just 1-4 in true road games against teams ranked in the RPI Top 100.
So, how does Indiana get to Lucas Oil Stadium? Seeing as how Gonzaga (West), Kansas (South), Duke and Georgetown (East) all have their home regions elsewhere, Louisville is the only real threat between Indiana and Indianapolis. Barring a Big East Tournament Championship for the Cardinals, and a quarterfinals defeat for Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament, it seems unlikely that Louisville will jump IU.
The importance of Indiana securing a spot in the Midwest can't be understated. Historically, #1 seeds make the Sweet 16 nearly 95% of the time so the Hoosiers have put themselves in the driver's seat to play in front of an IU-heavy crowd to secure their trip to Atlanta.